All the racing mice were muzzled saddled and the last finishing touches were being done. It would be dark soon and the torches along the race path were being put into place. The path would zig zag through the orchard down to the bottom of the hill. At the paved road it would turn run along the road for a few hundred yards then head back up the hill. The starting line would become the finish line.
The race would take the racers past the hog pen and around the duck pen. This is were the riders would have the most trouble with their mounts. Smelling the food in the livestock pens and the duck eggs, would draw the mouse’s attention away from the race. If the rider did not have complete control of the mouse ,he would find himself at the feed troth or the nests. This had been a point of argument at the council meeting. When the path of the race was being decided.
In the end it was decided that the route taken would show the riders skill at being abel to control the mouse. There had been two details of volunteer gnomes who would be at both problem ares to assist the riders should they loose control of their animal.
There was a lot of activity in the orchard. Refreshment booths were going up. Seats and benches were being constructed all all along the path. The judges platform was completed and chairs were being laid out. I watched it all for awhile then went to feed the cats. Each cat had sleeping pills added to their dinner that night so they would not interfere with the race.
The owls had agreed to only watch the race. Of course they let it be known that after the race any rider wishing to get ride of their mount need only say the word. Then the problem would be solved. There were a few riders that I thought might take them up on that offer. They were not happy with their mount before the race and i did not see the race changing anything. Thou I had my suspicions it was the rider not the animal that was the problem.
It had gotten dark fast and the torches were being lit. Garden Gnomes had come from all over the valley to watch the race. The refreshment booths were doing a good business and the betting tables had lines clear down around the closest trees. I sat on a large rock were I would be able to watch the whole race. I had brought a large Thermos of coffee and some snacks with me. I also had a warm quilt to wrap myself in if it got cold.
The twenty minute bell sounded and this caused a ripple through the spectators. Gnomes were rushing around trying to place their bets, find a good spot to watch from and making sure they had good things to eat while watching the race. This was one of the biggest social events of the year for the Garden Gnomes in the valley.